Lack Luster Images?

September 27, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Lack Luster Images- Tonal Values in Lightroom and ACR

Many photographers have shot an image that although the camera settings seemed correct, seemed to lack luster when the image appeared on their computer screen especially if shot in the raw format. Sometimes that image may need a little adjustment, or quite a bit. The above image was shot against a grey sky, and of course, the bridge is a steel grey so the image even seemed a little out of focus.  There are a few options here to adjust tonality of an image:

  • Contrast- Increasing or decreasing contrast will increase or decease the level of brightness between adjacent light and dark pixels. The effect is global and will typically affect the entire image.
  • Sharpen - Works along the edges to increase contrast between adjacent pixels. Typically this too is a global effect for the entire image.
  • Texture: Tends to target the mid-tones in the image to sharpen or blur the finer details. A less extreme of clarity and typically does not affect luminance or saturation.
  • Clarity: A more intense version of texture and it darkens contrast areas, reduces saturation, and slightly bleeds over from pixel to pixel. It may increase brightness of an image globally. Clarity in portrait images tend to work globally on midtones.
  • Dehaze: Affect large areas of contrast often resulting in a non uniform color shift by boosting saturation. Can be used on landscape images with foggy or misty appearance.


Many of these controls have a global influence on the image.  Clarity when used very sparingly can soften the skin on portraits but may also brighten an image that may be bright to begin with. Texture has a more subtle effect on portraits and can also soften the skin. Increasing texture can bring out the details in buildings, rocks, and bridges, and other objects with a hard edge in certain landscape images.

Combining one or more of these control may be able to rescue and image that you may have decided to pass by without much thought. Although they may not be able to fix a blurred image due to a shaky camera or missed focal point, but they are certainly worth giving a try.





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